Protesters speak out against climate change, pipeline project
Published Saturday, November 16, 2013 12:46PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 16, 2013 6:45PM EST
Demonstrators in Quebec and across the country protested in dozens of rallies against the Alberta oil sands and pipeline that carry crude oil.
Part of a “National Day of Action to protect our climate and our communities,” over 130 events were organized by umbrella group Defend Our Climate, including three in Quebec: Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Rivière- du- Loup and Oka.
About 300 protesters, including of the Mohawk community, environmentalist groups and concerned citizens, gathered on Highway 344 at Oka National Park to express their opposition to the proposed Enbridge 9B pipeline reversal project, which would pass on Mohawk land.
"It's not just a First Nations issue, it's a people issue -- and they are the one culture where every move they make and every tradition they have is in consideration of Earth," said protester Martine Derrer.
The group said the event was to call attention to what they say is the irresponsible development of the oil sands and to sound the alarm on climate change considered to be irreversible.
“Creating jobs helps us out in the moment, helps reduce poverty in the moment, but it's not a long-term solution. It's not a long-term solution for sustaining life, because the projects are going to destroy Mother Earth,” said protester Wanda Gabriel. “This territory right here has been part of traditional land since the beginning of our time.”
Quebec solidaire spokesperson Amir Khadir was on hand to show his opposition to the project, which, according to him, comes with enormous environmental hazards and disrespects the rightful owners of the land.
“We have to collectively recognize that this territory is Mohawk territory,” said Khadir.
Meantime, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association has released a new study pointing to the economic benefits of pipeline projects, claiming the industry will add $130 billion to Canada's Gross Domestic Product over the next 30 years.
The association also said it is committed to safety.
"That's our job #1. Safe and environmentally well-performing. We are second to none in the world at this point, but we have a goal of zero incidents and we are doing a number of things to drive toward that pretty aggressively," said Brenda Kenny, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
Protesters disagreed, said the stakes are high.
“The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the pollution and the contamination and the destruction of our planet. I mean, how could you not care?” said protester Josee Bayeur.